Alumni profile

Jennifer Williams AM

Bachelor of Economics, 1970

Non-executive director

With an illustrious career in health, Jennifer has made a sustained and significant contribution to the delivery of medical services for the State of Victoria.

Her achievements include the transformation of Austin Health and then Alfred Health (1997 to 2009) and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (2009 to 2016).

Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Economics from La Trobe, and is a member of the Class of 1970.

Prior to her career in the healthcare industry, Jennifer was hired by trailblazing telecommunications company COMSAT in the USA after completing her degree at La Trobe. 

"It was really the only company that was involved in launching and using satellites for voice and data and television communication back in those years," Jennifer said. 

"I do remember on one occasion when President Nixon went to China and for the first time we established satellite communications which had been locked out of the world for many years."

As Chief Executive of Austin Health, Jennifer shepherded a dramatic financial recovery and redevelopment, leading one of the largest hospital capital projects ever in Victoria. 

She also developed a fundraising strategy and implemented a major upgrade to existing capacity including gaining the support of Olivia Newton-John to assist in raising $50m for a new cancer centre.

Jennifer also turned around the financial and operational fortunes of Alfred Health as Chief Executive.

As Chief Executive of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service from March 2009, Jennifer presided over a significant period of financial improvement, improved customer service, blood processing facility rationalisation and renewal of the Red Cross' manufacturing facilities and donor collection centres around the country. 

In March 2016, Jennifer left Red Cross to take up roles with organisations including Northern Health, Yooralla, InfoXchange and more. 

Reflecting on her illustrious career, Jennifer believes La Trobe gave her a well-rounded education for future success.

The University just gave me a very good grounding in terms of general approach to life and was a really strong basis to build my career beyond that. 

Jennifer became a Councillor of La Trobe in 2009 and continued in the role until 2016. In the position, she spent time travelling to the University's regional campuses. 

“From time-to-time, we [visited] the regional campuses and [met] students that you know would have had no chance of going to university had there not been a campus there," she said.

“La Trobe started as a university for 'first in family' and to try and get greater penetration of tertiary education into the northern suburbs. I think that says a lot for what La Trobe is about and what La Trobe wants to continue to ... achieve."

Distinguished Business and commerce Health

Last updated: 7th May 2019